When you were five, it was of utmost importance that you had someone to walk out onto the playground with. The same went for bathroom visits as well. Pack mentality was drilled in early on, and none of us questioned it.
These were simpler times, before the number of followers you had on instagram was even a thing. Yes, I and many others my age were the last few to live in a time where social media was not the be all and end all of life. We had mobiles, but they lit up and were made of rubber. The battery life was stellar, lasting a week or more because all we did was top them up with credit we’d get from saving pocket-money and text ‘r u going 2 the park 2nite’.
We didn’t have to unfriend, block or change our account names to avoid people we didn’t like. We just stopped hanging around with them, taking our mum’s advice when she’d tell us “don’t spend time with people who do not make you happy”.
Now, we can pretend people don’t exist anymore by tapping the block button on our phones. All traces of their lives can be eradicated instantly, and it’s as if you don’t even know their name. They don’t even pop up on the back of other people’s feeds. It’s magical. That is, until you see them in person again. The toe curling, nauseating awkwardness that follows that initial meeting is more hassle than it’s worth.
Awkward moments aside though, going back to my mother’s advice is sometimes necessary.
People purging is a thing I have recently started doing across my social media accounts. I have fallen out of the habit of following people purely because we went to school together/we occasionally say hi on the high street/ I feel bad if I don’t. Instead I have regained, to some extent, control over my social media bubble. I now only follow or befriend people whose lives I take a genuine interest in, or whose work inspires me to be better. I don’t follow someone I went to primary school with who posts the same sunday roast on insta every week anymore, because they weren’t doing what social media is intended for; connecting and influencing.
People with thousands of friends on Facebook, or followers on Instagram and Twitter 9 times out of 10 don’t know over half of the people who follow them. And that’s totally ok! Gaining a following is like having your own free fan club, it’s weirdly exhilarating and encouraging, especially if you use social media as a platform to present your work.
But I am just tired of scrolling through mindless posts that I don’t care about, made by people I no longer connect with.
People purging feels brutal at first, because we have this weird attachment to our own and other people’s online profiles and personas. Having access to a very structured and planned out insight into someone else’s life fulfills our need to be nosey. But taking away the courteous follows, and unfriending people you wouldn’t say hello to in person is the best way to spring clean your phone, and your mind. What’s the use in spending your valuable time looking at another person’s rehearsed life through a phone screen?
We aren’t on the playground anymore. You don’t need a group of people to walk out into the crowd with, because you’re perfectly capable of handling shit on your own. You no longer have to conform to the pack mentality, because you know you’ll get nowhere on your own if you’re just mindlessly following others.